NOIZE Magazine - Interview with Mic Michaeli
By: Harry Pater/Henry Knegt         From: NOIZE Magazine - 1993         Translated by: Daantje

With “The Final Countdown” the Swedish band EUROPE had a worldwide breakthrough. They hit the #1 position in the charts almost everywhere. The singles after this (a.o. “Rock The Night” and “Carrie”) sold well, but not as much as their first hit. The band had, and still has, some sort of teenybopper-like image, although the band proves on stage that this is not really the case: Live they are as solid as a house. Whether the band has gone on its way back, only the future can tell, at least the record sales have dropped drastically after “The Final Countdown”.

NOIZE spoke with keyboardist Mic Michaeli, who now, like the other band members, officially lives somewhere on the Bahamas. As you all know the tax rates in Sweden are rather high if you make a lot of money. On New Year's Eve 1991 the band performed in Japan.

"We performed together with Metallica, Tesla and Thunder in front of about 30 000 people at the Tokyo Dome. The concert was live on the television in Japan. Do we have plans to do a live-album? Yes, the concert in Zurich was taped for Swiss television and we might use this material for a live-album."

How popular is EUROPE these days?

"I think we are still very popular. The gigs were not always sold out, but the venues are always quit full and we do have a very good and enthusiastic audience."

Live you also play guitar nowadays, except on the albums you don’t…

"Why should I play guitar on any album, I’m by far not as good as Kee Marcello, so… On stage I play keyboards and guitar, especially because on the new album there are some songs without any keyboards and I will not go on waiting until it is my turn again to play some music…"

Do you also uses samples at your live performances?

"Only with the song 'A Little Bit Of Lovin’', to make it all sound better."

On your CD-single “I’ll Cry For You” there was the song “Break Free”. Why is this very good song not on the album?

"We recorded 18 songs, so we had to drop some to end up with 14 songs, but we wanted 12 songs maximum. The two songs that we finally let go were 'Yesterday’s News' and 'Break Free'. We thought the audience wouldn’t like them as much, but now we hear from a lot of people who have heard these songs that they do like them a lot; that’s why we decided to add these songs as bonus tracks on the CD-singles. We also play 'Break Free' live on stage."

Are all the shows the same, or do you change the set list on a regular basis?

"We do change the set list on a regular basis and also try out new songs. We also talk to the fans about this as many times as possible to hear which songs we do and don’t have to play. To play the same show night after night is also not much fun for us and to prevent ourselves from being bored and to maintain the good atmosphere, we put a lot of variation in, although there are certain songs we just have to play."

Is there much difference in playing in the Netherlands or for example Sweden or Finland?

"In the Netherlands the audience is much more enthusiastic, they are wilder and noisier. The crowd over here, the same as in Belgium for that matter, sings along much more. In Sweden we also have a very good audience, but they are much calmer."

What is the rock scene like in Sweden?

"We are almost never in Sweden, so I don’t know too much about that. Of course there is Roxette, they are world-famous by now and a fairly new band, Electric Boys, which I like very much. When you are singing in Swedish, you never reach an audience outside your own country, as I think is the same for Holland, Norway etc. This is quite a big problem for Swedish bands."

Do you miss your home country when you are always in warmer regions?

"Yes I do, as I said we don’t go to Sweden a lot, because we do a lot of touring or we are recording in San Francisco. We all live on a tropical island near the US… On the new album there is also a song about being homesick, ’Homeland’."

Are you all still in contact with your previous guitarist John Norum?

"Yes, he lives in L.A. now and we do visit him there, we are still very good friends. As you know, a while ago he made a solo album and Joey sings on some of the songs on it, they are a bit like the old EUROPE-stuff. Most of the songs are actually sung by Glenn Hughes."

Who are The Lame Swedes?

"They are a backing vocal group, with Joey, Kee and I. The producer and technicians were joking around and gave us this name."

How do you all stay in shape when you are on tour?

"We do play a lot of soccer when we are touring. In 1988 we were on tour with Def Leppard and we played against each other. Those guys all had complete soccer uniforms with special shoes to play soccer, while we were just in normal shorts and T-shirts. They played very well, much better than the English soccer team, ‘cause they beat us by 10-0!"

We heard of a story about a small scooter Joey bought when you were recording in San Francisco…

"That’s right; he got car troubles on his way to the studio. He tried to stop a taxi, but didn’t succeed. A bit further there was a girl with a small yellow scooter and he made her an offer she couldn’t resist, so she sold him her scooter. We laughed about it when he arrived at the studio, ‘cause there were other bands recording in the same studio and some of them had arrived by Harleys. Joey just put his small scooter in between. Since then he came to the studio every day on his scooter."

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